Rose bushes are a popular plant for most home gardens--although they take more care than your average garden plant. Rose bushes are prone to mildew and fungus problems and are attacked by a variety of insects. In Ohio, some rose bush varieties may not grow well because of the intense winter cold. However, there are a wide variety of winter hardy roses to choose from. Transplanting rose bushes in Ohio should be done in early spring, but can be done as late as August if proper transplanting procedures are followed.
Choose a day in August that is cloudy with high humidity to transplant your rose bushes so that they do not dry out when removed from the soil. Prune all rose bushes that are to be moved with garden loppers or hand shears. The pruning does not need to be severe before the plants are moved--but trim off about one-third of the previous year's growth. Prune off all dead limbs or limbs that are crossing or rubbing against other limbs.
Dig up the rose bushes to be moved by pushing a sharp garden shovel around the root base of the rose bush beginning at a distance of about 18 inches from the base of the plant. Push the shovel into the soil in a circle around the root base, severing any roots with the shovel. Use the shovel as a lever to try and force the rose bush from the ground after you have loosened the root system. It is very important that you save as much of the root system as possible. If a large root does not want to cooperate, you can cut it with a pair of garden loppers, leaving as much root as possible. Pull the rose bushes that you are moving onto a tarp and lightly mist or spray the roots with water. Leave them in a shady location while you are preparing the new planting location.
Dig holes for the new rose bush locations by digging the holes large enough so that the entire root base of the transplanted rose bush is easily accommodated and so that the "knob" or graft is slightly above the ground level. The graft is the place where the rose bush was grafted to the root base of another plant with desirable rooting characteristics. If you bury the graft, the root base below the graft may grow instead of the top portion of the plant which carries the blooming characteristics you desire.
Add enough compost to the soil so that as much as one-half of the soil you add back into the hole is compost. Place transplants into the planting holes while spreading the roots out so that they do not encircle the plant. Add water into the hole as you add the soil and compost mix into the planting hole, creating a slush, so the soil fits tightly around the roots and no air pockets are created.
Pile loose, dry soil around the plants in a mound 8 to 10 inches deep; make sure to cover the grafted area and the bottom of the stems to protect the area from freezing weather.
Deep soak the base of the plants once every week until the first frost if there is no rain by allowing a stream of water the size of a pencil to run over the base of each plant for one-half hour. When all danger of frost has passed the following spring, uncover the base of the plants and add a 1-inch layer of mulch around the transplants to preserve moisture and keep weeds under control.